[Issue 091] Guess which political party CEOs contribute to most?


Happy Thursday!


I'm writing today's newsletter from Cartegena, Colombia where my partner and I decided to get away for a workcation (aka "working from home" in a different city) for a few weeks. It's my second time here, and I love it so much I've even convinced my family (my parents, four sisters, partners and my nieces) to join us for a few days in June. I am SO happy.

But being the true nerd that I am, last night I enjoyed the ocean view from our balcony while reading research. The topic: the politics of CEOs.

I can't even recall, but I came across this research paper a few days ago. The researchers used Federal Election Commission records to create a database of all political contributions of S&P1500 CEOs between 2000 and 2017. That was a total of 3,500 individuals (only 2.8% of whom were female) whose companies accounted for 90% of US market capitalization. 

The report is all about the political contributions of CEOs and their transparency — which is not required thanks to Citizens United. To be considered a pro-Republican or pro- Democrat CEO, the executive had to direct at least two-thirds of their donations to candidates affiliated with that party.

What did they find?

  • CEOs disproportionately display pro-Republican preferences, with 60% contributing mainly to Republican candidates vs. 18% Democrat.

  • More than a quarter of executives gave enough to both parties to be classified as “neutral.”

  • 75% of donations from the median chief executive were directed to Republicans, with 2x as much going to Republicans as Democrats ($123M vs $61M).

  • Public companies with Republican CEOs tend to be less transparent to investors when it comes to their political spending.


Why does this matter? I think the researchers said it best themselves:

Although public companies represent only 0.06% of the total number of U.S. firms, they account for 31.3% of private-sector employment, 41.3% of sales, and 51.1% of pre-tax profits. As key decision-makers within their firms, CEOs thus preside over a significant portion of the nation’s economy. Their decisions can have an enormous impact on jobs, wealth, tax revenues, and even the social fabric of local communities. These facts naturally make public-company CEOs important agents in the economy.

While the findings in this paper weren't particularly surprising to me, it was both refreshing to have the data and worrisome how little transparency there is. However, with the rise in research on political contributions and increasing shareholder pressure for transparency, I am hopeful that this will start to change.

In the meantime, we need to keep paying attention and decide what we want to do with the information we do have access to.

All of us, to CEOs

All of us, to CEOs


As New York Times journalist, Andrew Sorkin wrote, "It’s up to you whether that affects how you vote with your dollars, of course. But now, more than ever, it’s worth knowing where the powerful figures in the business world are placing their bets."

Don't you think?





It's Time To Stop Referring To Maternity Leave As Generous. In this piece, the author shares her experience hearing managers refer to maternity leave policies as generous. She argues that this is giving reluctant employers more reason to provide family leave policies that "lag embarrassingly far behind" the rest of the world. // FAST COMPANY

The First TV Show Is Leaving Georgia Over The New Abortion Law. The Local Film Industry Fears What Comes Next. Director Reed Morano was scouting locations in Georgia for a new Amazon Prime show called The Power, when the heartbeat bill was signed into passing. Due to the bill being passed, Morano decided to pull out all the scouts and shut down even the possibility of filming in Georgia, as there was "no way we would ever bring our money to that state by shooting there". // TIME

Netflix Weighs In On Georgia Abortion Law. In an official statement by Ted Sarandos, who is Netflix's Chief Content Officer, Netflix took a stance against the new abortion law by saying that "We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law." He goes on to say that since the legislation has not yet been implemented, they will continue to film in Georgia and work with the ACLU and others to fight the bill in Georgia. If the bill comes into affect, it is likely Netflix will stop filming in Georgia. // CNN

The World's Most Beautiful Headphones Are Here, And They're Made of Fungus.Korvaa is a headphone prototype that is produced through growing microbes. The hard plastic-like materials in the headphones have been made by lactic acid produced by yeast, while the soft padding is made from Hydrophobin, a protein produced by fungus. To form the mesh, they used biosynthetic spider silk, produced by microbes, and the leather that sits on top is fungal mycelium, like mushroom skin. This is just the start of finding new ways to produce sustainable materials. // FAST COMPANY

Oh that's fancy!

Oh that's fancy!

Prada To Stop Using Fur From Next Year. The Fur Free Alliance, a coalition of more than 50 animal protection organizations, has announced that the Prada group of brands will no longer be using real fur in any of their products. Instead, they will focus on "innovative materials" to keep their design while meeting the demand for ethical products. // BBC

Google Maps Launches A "Wheelchair Accessible" Option for 6 Cities. Google maps has announced that it is making it a bit easier to navigate major cities in a wheelchair by launching a new "wheelchair- accessible" option six major cities, London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney. The option helps users find routes that are wheelchair accessible, however the success of the option will depend on accurate and updated data. // MASHABLE

Nokia Women and Some Men Will Get a Pay Hike to Close Gender Gap. Female employees at Nokia Oyk will get a raise this summer, as the company is allocating a special budget to remove salary differences between the male and female employees who work similar jobs. A few men will also be receiving raises too, if they were also not paid equally to similar employees. // BLOOMBERG

CVS Quit Cigarettes So Americans Would Too-- And It Worked. In 2014, CVS pulled all tobacco products from its supply, wanting to stop promoting the addictive product. At the start, it was rocky with the company's bottom line being affected by 8% across all stores, and a loss of $2 billion in potential revenue. However, after a few years, the company's stock value has soared to 140% of what it was before. Furthermore, it even had an affect on areas where CVS had a strong presence and dropped cigarette pack sales by a whopping 1%, which translates to 95 million fewer packs sold. // TRIPLE PUNDIT

This week's headlines were curated by ABL's intern, Lora.


The importance of transparency is hard to overstate: it is the crucial safeguard to protect society from capture by private interests. Moreover, without transparency, shareholders themselves are cheated because they are kept in the dark about how the funds they put at risk are being used.”

CSR needs CPR: Corporate Sustainability and Politics

Nikita T. Mitchell